Rigoberto González

Dead Woman's Jewelry at an Estate Sale

                     Cuernavaca/New York City

You summon up a cemetery for the woman who owns the earrings you’re about 
to buy. You’re an old woman too and you know about the clutter of hooks, wires, 

beads. Stones like these don’t even fool themselves and wear the adhesive off in 
public parks, where the scavenger birds pick at their senseless vanity. This dead 

lady must have coveted multiple piercings to have left behind so much jewelry 
and you suspect she was buried with modest studs because here you stand 

before her mirror, modeling the gaudier legacy of her collection. A woman 
like this, whose closet cascades belts with lackluster buckles, no longer reigns 

supreme over a kingdom of sequins and glitter. The retired army of her mules and flats 
rejects the discipline of symmetrical formation. You might have seen her on the street 

some months ago, before her death, a pale lady spending her strength to hold up 
a white wig, and you smirked knowing you would outlive her, a small accomplishment 

no doubt but one of the few you have left—that and picking out a matching pair 
in silver to compliment that white blouse you brought back from Cuernavaca, a place 

with a camposanto, where white people were buried as long as sixty years ago, 
their names—Moreland, Lacey, Hart—no longer foreign, but right at home among 

the mauve and peach mausoleums, cherubs with clipped wings, a tile so blue 
it invites the beetles to dip their suckers for a drink. You strolled along the faith 

of tombs, peeked through the bored windows of wreaths, traced the odd writing 
on stone. Even the spear-headed gladiolus looked baroque in its sparse flowering; 

you might have seen similar sadness on a Tarot card. And yet there was festivity 
in every upright monument as if nobody took death lying down. There is where 

a collector of bright things belongs, sunning her entire grave above ground. 
After all this rummage you decide on a pair shaped like seashells. You feel a draft 

and amuse yourself: have you fooled the dead woman’s husband’s ghost, 
enough to make him whisper in your ear because you’ve resurrected an owner 

for these earrings for another month or two, perhaps a year? Bargain hunter, 
cheap thrill-seeker, as you buy your basketful of trinkets, it’s comforting to know 

that death appreciates the flashy cloth and ornate metals down in México. 
When your skull bleeds through your scalp, al sur is where you too will want to go. 

                                                                                                for Mahsa Hojjati

© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review